FK Qarabag v Chelsea: Blues to be made to wait for qualification

There have been mixed fortunes for Antonio Conte this season
There have been mixed fortunes for Antonio Conte this season
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Chelsea travel to Azerbaijan to take on FK Qarabag knowing that a victory will seal their place in the next round of the Champions League, but Paul Robinson doesn't think that it will be that straightforward...

"When FK Qarabag drew with Atletico, they did so with 10 men."

Lay Chelsea @ [1.35]

FK Qarabag v Chelsea
Wednesday 22 November, 17:00 BST
Live on BT Sport

Minnows showing their steel

The champions of Azerbaijan might not be the biggest name in world football but they come into this Champions League fixture having held Atletico Madrid, both home and away.

Admittedly those were the first points that they have registered in Group C, but they have shown great character to bounce back from their opening 6-0 defeat at Stamford Bridge, and their other defeat was only a narrow one against Roma by a 2-1 scoreline.

The chances of them finishing third and qualifying for the Europa League are still pretty slim, but their results have been encouraging, and they are flying in their domestic league as well.

Blues on the brink of last 16

Chelsea are second in Group C, but a four point cushion over Atletico Madrid, and a home game to come, mean that they have one foot in the draw for the last 16.

Antonio Conte's side have had a mixed campaign, with some excellent performances and results being overshadowed by their 3-0 defeat at Roma and 2-1 loss at Crystal Palace, amongst others.

The Blues are in good heart at present however as they come into the game having beaten Manchester United and then thrashed West Brom at the Hawthorns on Saturday,

Eden Hazard in particular has been in excellent form of late and the return of N'Golo Kante can't be underestimated. He protects the defence like no other and he was badly missed when injured.

Don't underestimate the hosts

The visitors are heavy favourites at the [1.34] mark, with a home win the outsider at [12.0]. The draw is available at [5.6] for the fence sitters. Obviously I have to admit that Chelsea are the rightful firm favourites for the fixture, but I genuinely believe that they are too short in the market.

When FK Qarabag drew with Atletico, they did so with 10 men. Clearly you can't afford to lose a man in every game, but it just goes to show that they are no pushovers.

The elephant in the room is the 6-0 drubbing that Chelsea handed out to Gurban Gurbanov's side in the reverse fixture, but the champions of Azerbaijan have grown into the competition since then, and they are much better at home anyway.

My play would definitely be to oppose Chelsea at the current prices. They represent no value whatsoever at [1.34], and even if they didn't win this game, they would still only need to avoid defeat at Stamford Bridge to qualify - which also assumes that Atletico beat Roma.

Winning the group would obviously be an advantage for Antonio Conte's men so they do have a big incentive to win the game to keep the pressure on Roma at the top. However I just feel that the [1.34] is just too short.

Bet with caution when it comes to goals

This market is priced up a lot tighter as Under 2.5 Goals is the marginal outsider at [2.08], with the Over at [1.87]. If we go by the first match then it would be a case of steaming into the latter, but I'm not so sure.

I can't imagine that the hosts will be overly adventurous as they know the damage that Chelsea can cause, and I very much doubt that The Blues will push loads of men forward.

Winning the game is all that is important to Chelsea so if they get ahead, they have no real incentive to try and run up a huge scoreline - especially given how their defence were embarrassed in Rome.

Overall I definitely believe that there is a much higher chance of this being a low-scoring affair than a high-scoring one, so Under 2.5 has to be the pick.

Recommended Bets
Lay Chelsea @ [1.35]
Back Under 2.5 Goals @ [2.08]

2017/18 P/L (1pt each bet)

Wagered: 25pts
Returned: 44.06pts
P/L: +19.06pts

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